Photographic mind   28 Feb 2006

For many people it’s simply a case of point and shoot, but for some photography is an innate talent. ERICA FOSBENDER talks to Kiwi photographer Kerry Brown about life behind the lens.

His CV reads like an invitation list to the Oscars, yet Kiwi photographer Kerry Brown remains simple in his approach to his subject.

It’s not just about taking pictures of people – albeit famous ones – it’s about capturing their essence and the entire space around them.

Brown has photographed the likes of Keira Knightly, Winona Ryder and John Hurt. He has travelled far and wide to work on film and TV sets. He has worked as a director and cinematographer on both film and music ventures. It sounds like the high life, but Brown balances it well with family and Maori culture.

"It’s an ecclectic mix of things I do, which I love.

"I follow my camera around, it takes me places and introduces me to people. I’m constantly travelling and meeting people," he says.

But all the travel and variety doesn’t take away from his rich family life and participation in his Maori culture.

He lives in south London with his wife Rosanna Raymond and two children Malia (10) and Salvadon (13). They are part of Ngati Ranana, with the children taking part in kapa haka, and Rosanna an influential force in the Maori-Polynesian community.

He admits it’s a busy lifestyle but one he is more than happy with.

"London is a love-hate relationship, it’s really busy but I get to work on some interesting projects," he says.

When I spoke to Brown he explained how the previous day he had been working with Sadie Frost on a fashion shoot for her label Frost and French. It was a 19-hour day – the model had to be painted from head to toe – but long hours are all part of the job and you have to work until the job is done, Brown says.

He says the main breadwinner is working on film sets, taking still photographs, and his first foray into this was Once Were Warriors in 1994, not a bad place to start really.

Brown grew up in Takapuna and originally wanted to be a skateboarder. His father gave him a camera and Brown managed to land a job with Rip It Up magazine, which cast him in the role of rock and roll photograper in the late 70s and early 80s. A chance meeting with a professional photographer while hitchhiking landed him the role of photography assistant and the opportunity to work with Nigla Dixon in fashion.

Despite no formal training Brown’s career continued to flourish and eventually London started calling.

Like many Kiwis, Brown had the desire to get out and see the world, but more importantly be in the middle of a vibrant, culturally alive city. London is definitely the place for an artist to ply his trade.

"London is the most competitive place in the world. There is an amazing pool of established people and influential media."

Leaving New Zealand, Brown’s CV already boasted an inpressive list of Kiwi talent, including working on the sequel to Once Were Warriors, What Becomes of the Broken Hearted? and Scarfies. He also worked with Crowded House and later the Finn Brothers, Cliff Curtis and Lucy Lawless.

In London he had the opportunity to work with established professionals in an enviornment that nurtured the arts and had a much longer history of doing so than New Zealand. It had that international flavour that Brown was keen to capture.

"London is multicultural. It has art and culture on a level that is so much more sophisticated than New Zealand. It has a history of culture."

While he keeps an eye on New Zealand, he says most of his work comes from non-New Zealand projects.

A recent project was the UK film Bullet Boy, shot in Hackney, and the epic Australian film, The Proposition, which was shot in the Australian outback. He prefers working on film because he has more time with the subject, whereas in television there’s a rapid turnaround.

"I try to avoid television," he says despite a recent stint on Doctor Who. One of the things about London that excites Brown is its racial energy. And he extends the same variety in his professional life to his private life.

And working in the industry allows certain privileges, such as backstage at the Royal Albert Hall at the Finn Brothers’ concert. Brown’s son Salvadon played drums for them for part of it. His daughter Malia also read out a poem at Westminster Abbey during the last Anzac Day service. Then there’s the "hanging out with Druids at Stonehenge".

It’s all part of the experience for Brown, whose career is gaining plenty of momentum. But like many Kiwis he typically downplays the situation.

"I’d like to keep on doing what I’m doing and be more successful at it," he says, adding one day you can be riding high and the next unemployed.

"London has the potential for the switch to flick."

But that’s just one of the many aspects that keeps the experience fresh.

For more information visit www.kerry-brown.com.

Add a comment

Bookmark and Share

News

Government announces review of organisational culture and processes at the Human Rights Commission

22 Feb 2018 News By Hon Andrew Little
21 FEBRUARY 2018 Justice Minister Andrew Little today announced that he has ordered a review of the procedures and organisational... more

NZ increases humanitarian funding for Syrian war victims

22 Feb 2018 News
NZ increases humanitarian funding for Syrian war victims Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters has announced that New Zealand... more

Business

CPTPP text and National Interest Analysis released for public scrutiny

22 Feb 2018 Business News By Hon David Parker
21 FEBRUARY 2018 Minister for Trade and Export Growth David Parker has today welcomed the release of the text of the Comprehensive... more

Leading digital nations put digital rights at the heart of their agenda

22 Feb 2018 Business News By Hon Clare Curran
World digital government leaders meeting in Wellington for the Digital Ministerial Summit have set up a digital rights working group,... more

Living

London Cafes to Soothe Kiwi Homesickness

24 Nov 2017 London By Emma Creese
Exploring the world is a big draw for Kiwis to take an OE, but everyone moves their lives 18,000km from home not even thinking... more

New London venue and new look for New Zealand Annual Tasting

24 Nov 2017 Food & Wine
New Zealand Winegrowers will hold their Annual Trade Tasting in January at a new venue, and with it a new look and features for... more

Property

No new solutions in housing report

12 Feb 2018 Property By Michael Woodhouse
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 12, 2018   The Government's housing stocktake report released today adds no new knowledge or... more

Stocktake finds housing crisis deeper, more entrenched

12 Feb 2018 Property
12 FEBRUARY 2018 An independent stocktake of New Zealand’s housing sector has found the housing crisis the country faces is deeper... more

Migration

Community organisations chosen to sponsor refugees in New ZealandI

26 Jan 2018 Migration By Hon Iain Lees-Galloway
26 JANUARY 2018 Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway has today announced the four community-based organisations who will be the... more

Building occupations added to skill shortage list

14 Dec 2017 Migration By Iain Lees-Galloway
15 DECEMBER 2017 It will be easier for the building industry to find the workers it needs to help address New Zealand’s housing... more

Travel

International visitors spend $10.6bn in year to December

22 Feb 2018 Travel & Tourism
International visitor spending reached a record high of $10.6 billion in the year to December 2017, Tourism Minister Kelvin Davis... more

NZ Election 2017: Tourism fund for infrastructure and conservation

28 Aug 2017 Travel & Tourism
Tourism fund for infrastructure and conservation Posted by Kris Faafoi on August 28, 2017 Labour will estaba Tourism and... more

Sport

Winter Olympics: NZ Triples Medal Count in Single Day

22 Feb 2018 Sport
New Zealand has tripled its Olympic Winter Games medal count in a single stunning afternoon at PyeongChang 2018. Zoi... more

Day 9 at the Games: Men's Giant Slalom and Team Pursuit Update

17 Feb 2018 Sport
17 Feb 2018 Adam Barwood finished 34th and Willis Feasey 36th in the men’s Giant Slalom in PyeongChang... more

Columns

Gordon Campbell on the Gareth Morgan crusade

11 Nov 2016 Opinion
Gordon Campbell on the Gareth Morgan crusade First published on Werewolf The ghastly likes of Marine Le Pen in France and Geert ... more

Gordon Campbell on the US election outcome

10 Nov 2016 Opinion
Column - Gordon Campbell   Gordon Campbell on the US election outcome Well um.. on the bright side, there (probably)... more

Kiwi Success

Law Commissioner appointed

29 May 2017 Appointments
29 May 2017 Former Secretary for Justice Belinda Clark has been appointed as Law Commissioner, Justice Minister Amy Adams announced... more

Spencer to be Acting Governor of Reserve Bank

8 Feb 2017 Appointments
7 Feb 2017 Finance Minister Steven Joyce will appoint current Deputy Reserve Bank Governor Grant Spencer as the Acting Governor of... more

Recruitment

Fastest growing jobs - NZ recruitment

21 Dec 2017 Recruitment
New Zealand’s increasing need for social services has seen jobs in the Community Services & Development industry among the... more

Online job ads continue growing strongly

26 Jun 2017 Recruitment
23 June 2017 Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment Minister Paul Goldsmith says the latest Jobs Online report shows strong growth... more